Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

The final voice: a view from the Chair

by Lloyd on 12.12.11

Dear members,

This is the last time that I write to you as the Chair of the General Council and the Woodcraft Folk, I leave to focus on my studies and lead the European campaign to save international youth work and the funding that organisations like IFM-SEI receive to operate. Two and a half years have gone ever so quickly, but I think that we have achieved a lot in that time.

This year will be the first in many when we have not made a significant loss and it will also be the first that we have started to really focus on group work and growing for a number of years. This task above all else is what focuses us.

I know that Pat Hunter (right), who takes over from me on the 3rd January, will do an amazing job and I will remain on the Finance and General Purpose committee to help continue oversee the work that we have achieved in that time.

In this newsletter you will find lots of exciting things, including reports from Development Conference and two new activity packs; one on the Right to Strike II (Special Edition) and the other just for Elfin and Pioneers about Gender and Sexuality. These packs are examples of our commitment to supporting educational activity in our organisation and represent a turn around in the last few years from a position were we hadn’t produced general educational packs for a number of years.

While our children are growing up in a country that is cutting their futures away, I am pleased to see many of our members and in particular our children protesting. Those who say that the Woodcraft Folk is not political are sorely wrong; we are the very things that politics should be made of – values, beliefs and action. While we are not party political it is quite clear for most of our young people who the enemy is, and it is telling that even a child can see that cutting services from the very poorest in society to pay for banks and bonuses is not fair.

These politics must be at the core of our work and the core of our growth. Creating islands of resistance to what is presently happening in this county is one of the core attributes of our education – taking children into the countryside, creating children’s republics for them to study and play. We must advocate fashioning a new world and not just liberal education of general freedom or the conservative education of conformity. Our empowerment is based on the world that we have now with an aim to allow children to build one with an internationalist approach.

With Britain looking more isolated in this world than ever, on the edges of Europe and on the edge of conflict with Iran, now more than ever is the time to make sure that our young people understand that world around them and meet young people from around the world.

I hope that though the work that we do in international seminars, the fantastic CoCamp and recent education packs this it is clear that while the government may be trying to cut Britain off from the world the Woodcraft Folk is clearly a willing participant in a international order of peace and friendship. That’s why I was delighted when General Council agreed to host the IFM-SEI Congress in 2013, which will be the end of Tamsin Pearce’s term as Secretary General of our international. We will be celebrating the six years of Tamsin at the helm of the international, welcoming her home to Woodcraft Folk in Manchester at the home of the international co-operative movement.

We must all be motivated to continue the struggle, and also recognise that we live within this world and cannot escape it without changing it. That is why some of our education on gender equality is so important. We must make clear that to create a new world we must also challenge ourselves. This means speaking up when our friends do things that are not acceptable and making sure that you listen when people raise concerns. We cannot ignore violence that is structural and the emotional harm that we must also stamp out. Years of oppression, have allowed us to sometimes become blind to our own oppressive behaviour and as an organisation we are committed to challenging sexist, racist, homophobic and other abusive behaviour, whether it be through normalised abuse pretending to be a joke or just exclusion though setting up of sexist clubs. Often at this time of year young and old adults can push their limits to far but we must try to be role models of how we want human relations to be – respectful, equal and happy. I hope that whether it be baking cakes for your Yule parties or singing songs about the diggers and dreamers we remember that our education should also be fun and at this time of year in particular.

I wish you the very best New Year and Blue Skies

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Chair

General Council

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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